A trip to Leicester City this weekend, then. We’ve got lots of memories of the King Power (née Walkers) Stadium (née Bowl), most of them good. Prior to building arguably the least attractive of all the nation’s nu-stadia, however, the Foxes had the tightly-packed Filbert Street ground, one of those classic old football venues that had supporters within a fingertip-covered-in-snot distance of any unsuspecting player taking a throw-in.
City’s final visit to the ground that gave League bows to Shilton and Lineker was in March 1991. These were the opening weeks of the reign of Terry Dolan, who had taken over after the profligate and sour Stan Ternent was fired following a rotten drubbing on New Years Day at Portsmouth. Dolan’s own evildoing was a good while away yet, and although there was little real hope for the club’s survival in the second tier, the odd decent result did still emerge.
From the Tigertube archives then, as eloquently reported by Yorkshire TV’s gentleman commentator John Helm, we see Andy Payton shake off his marker as each chase a clearing header from David Mail, before sliding in a low 82nd minute shot with absolute authority. And that was that. It’s a bit brief, as Goals On Sunday showed just, er, goals, but enjoy it nonetheless…
It was Dolan’s second win in charge, his first away from home and, beyond that, Payton’s 20th goal of a remarkable individual season. He is probably the ultimate natural goalscorer of City’s recent history, and how the current incarnation could do with a selfish, confident and ruthless predator like him right now. That he and Peter Swan scored 37 goals between them while the team ended up rock bottom says much about just how much the Tigers defence of 1990-91 let down its attack.
Also on show that day were esteemed individuals such as Leigh Palin, who would soon fall out with Dolan and be quickly shifted on; local YTS graduate Les Thompson, who had a good run at left back and became quietly admired by the Tiger Nation, only for the new manager to give him a free transfer at the end of the season anyway; and loanees David Norton and Tommy Wright in midfield and in goal respectively. Mail was one of three centre backs on the pitch, alongside Malcolm Shotton and Russ Wilcox, while Lee Warren and David Hockaday made up the XI.
This win actually completed a pleasant double over supposedly more illustrious opponents, as the Tigers had already beaten Leicester 5-2 in the November while still in Ternent’s command. Payton and Swan scored twice each at the Ark that Friday evening, with Palin adding another from the spot.
Leicester, whose manager David Pleat left the club mid-season and was eventually replaced in the summer by one Brian Little, finished third bottom but avoided the drop for some convoluted reason involving divisional restructuring, so only West Bromwich Albion wound up in the third tier alongside the Tigers.
Now, who this weekend is going to score the winner for the Tigers with eight minutes to go?